ANN ARBOR, MICH. -- When it's Michigan vs. Michigan State, anything can happen. Sunday's baseball game in Ann Arbor proved it.
With Michigan State trailing by one with two outs in the ninth inning, the Spartans' Tom Hartley picked the perfect time for his first home run of the year, blasting a two-run dinger as MSU knocked off the Wolverines, 11-10, in a critical game in the race for the Big Ten playoffs.
The Spartan bullpen snuffed out a Wolverine rally in the bottom of the frame, as Josh Axelson came on with two outs in the ninth inning with the tying run at third and the winning run at first. The freshman delivered by getting Michigan's Bobby Scales to fly to Hartley in deep left field, as Axelson picked up his first career save. The right-hander came on to relieve Chris Yens (1-1), who picked up his first collegiate win.
The Spartans (18-19, 7-9) notched their third victory in the four-game set with the Wolverines (16-20-1, 6-10). It also marked MSU's first series win in Big Ten play this season, as MSU has now won four of its last five contests vs. Michigan.
Momentum swung back and forth between the two schools throughout the affair. The Spartans jumped on top early with a 7-1 lead in the third, only to have the Wolverines storm back. Michigan eventually took the lead in the bottom of the eighth with a pair of runs, taking a 10-9 advantage into the ninth inning. But Hartley's first four-bagger of the year, a lofting fly ball that just cleared the wall (and a leaping attempt by UM's Derek Besco) in the right, catapulted Michigan State to an amazing 11-9 victory.
The wild contest featured five errors on the day, as fielders had trouble with the rainy conditions. The two teams combined for 23 hits, 21 runs, 13 walks and five wild pitches. It also included two electrifying lead changes in the final two innings, with the only home run of the game deciding the outcome.
Hartley's home run capped an outstanding game and series for the junior outfielder. He went three-for-five on the afternoon with two RBI coming on the deciding home run. Over the four-game set with the Wolverines, Hartley went 8-16 with seven RBI. Mark Mulder and Mike Pisani also had two hits for the Spartans. Mulder, Hartley, Joe Kalczynski and Ted Demetral each had two RBI.
HOW THEY SCORED:
Michigan State first: Putz pitching. Fernandez walked. Grigg struck out swinging. Fernandez stole second. Wagner struck out looking. Mulder reached on an error by the third baseman, Fernandez advanced to third. Kalczynski lined a double into left center, Fernandez and Mulder scored. Hartley popped to shortstop. MSU, 2-0.
Michigan State second: Putz pitching. Albaugh walked. Pisani singled into left field, Albaugh to third. Demetral lined sharply to left field, Albaugh scored, sacrifice fly. Fernandez singled to left field, Pisani to second. Grigg doubled to the wall in left, Pisani scored, Fernandez to third. Wagner struck out swinging. Mulder doubled to wall in right-center, Fernandez and Grigg scored. Kalczynski struck out looking. MSU, 6-0.
Michigan second: Steiger pitching. D.Besco walked. B.Besco singled, D.Besco to third. Reid flied to left. Sanborn singled, D.Besco scored, B.Besco to second. Kalahar struck out swinging. Tousa popped to third base. MSU, 6-1.
Michigan State third: Putz pitching. Hartley singled up the middle. Alexander relieves Putz. Hartley moved to third on throwing error by pitcher. Albaugh struck out swinging. Pisani grounds out, shortstop to second base to first base. Demetral blooped double into center, Hartley scored. Demetral to third on wild pitch. Fernandez grounded to third. MSU, 7-1.
Michigan third: Steiger pitching. Cervanek grounded to pitcher. Scales singled. Alcaraz singled, Scales to second. D.Besco flied to right, Scales to third. B.Besco walked, Alcaraz to second. Reid walked, Scales scored, Alcaraz to third, B.Besco to second. Steiger threw wild pitch, Alcaraz scored, B.Besco to third, Reid to second. Sanborn struck out swinging. MSU, 7-3.
Michigan fourth: Steiger pitching. Kalahar walked. Tousa singled, moved to second on fielder's choice, Kalahar to third. Massey relieved Steiger. Cervenak hit by pitch. Scales singled, Kalahar and Tousa scored, Cervenak to third. Alcaraz grounded to second, Cervenak scored, Scales to third. D.Besco walked. B.Besco hit into 463 double play, D.Besco out at second. MSU, 7-6.
Michigan State fifth: Alexander pitching. Kalczynski flied to right. Hartley struck out looking. Albaugh walked. Pisani singled, Albaugh to second. Alexander threw wild pitch, Albaugh to third, Pisani to second. Demetral reached second on throwing error by shortstop, Albaugh and Pisani scored. Fernandez flied to right. MSU, 9-6.
Michigan fifth: Massey pitching. Seestadt hit for Reid. Seestadt walked. Bush hit for Sanborn. Bush singled, Seestadt to second. Kalahar flied to right, Seestadt to third. Bush stole second. Tousa grounded to pitcher. Cervenak singled, Seestadt and Bush scored. Brandell relieved Massey. Cervenak caught stealing, catcher to shortstop. MSU, 9-8.
Michigan eighth: Brandell pitching. Cervenak flied to left. Scales singled, moved to second on error by centerfielder. Alcaraz tripled to right, Scales scored. Yens relieved Brandell. Yens threw wild pitch, Alcaraz scored. D.Besco walked. B.Besco reached on fielder's choice, D.Besco out at second, first base to shortstop. Bobeda hit for Seestedt. Bobeda flied to left. UM, 10-9.
Michigan State ninth: Steketee pitching. Wagner lined to left. Mulder singled to left. Kalczynski flied out to deep center. Hartley homered to right on 1-0 pitch, Mulder and Hartley scored. Albaugh reached on fielding error by second baseman. Pisani struck out looking. MSU, 11-10.
Michigan ninth: Yens pitching. Bush singled. Kalaher out on sacrifice bunt, first base to second base, Bush to second. Yens threw wild pitch, Bush to third. Tousa grounded to third. Cervenak walked. Axelson relieved Yens. Scales flied to deep left. FINAL SCORE: MSU 11, UM 10.
Michigan State's next opponent will be Central Michigan in a doubleheader on Thursday. Brian Murphy and Mark Mulder are the scheduled pitchers. The Spartans will then host Indiana Tech and Siena Heights on Friday and Sunday, respectively, in doubleheaders at Kobs Field.
Michigan State 241 020 002 - 11 11 1 Michigan 012 320 020 - 10 12 4MSU: Steiger, Massey (4), Brandell (5), Yens (8), Axelson (9) and Kalczynski
UM: Putz, Alexander (3), Steketee (7) and Kalahar
W: Yens (1-1);
L: Steketee (2-2);
Save: Axelson (1);
HR: Hartley, MSU, (1)